Friday, May. 24, 2024

A Rider’s Horse Show Diary




Checklist Item: Review discipline rules and specs for classes you have entered.
Reality: Watch live stream of events unrelated to your discipline. Read about latest equestrian scandals; form opinions based solely on reading headlines of articles from unverified sources. Discuss heatedly with strangers on social media.

Checklist Item: Ensure entries have been received by horse show office.
Reality: Assume your trainer did that. Promptly evacuate any further thought of entries from your brain.

Checklist Item: Make sure your competition clothing is clean and in good repair.
Reality: Glance in closet and make mental note to get your show clothes cleaned. Text with horsey friends about what they are going to wear to the grand prix. Plan itinerary and wardrobe for non-show hours.

Checklist Item: Clean out horse trailer.
Reality: Glance at horse trailer and make mental note to clean it and make room for your tack trunk, equipment, supplies and feed.

Checklist Item: Make sure you have plenty of feed.
Reality: Glance into feed room and make mental note to order more feed before show.

Checklist Item: Review map of stabling and arenas at showgrounds.
Reality: Glance at online map of showgrounds and note locations of bathrooms, coffee tent and exhibitor party.

Checklist Item: Map out route to showgrounds.
Reality: Why? That’s why you paid for the fancy phone with the GPS, right?

Checklist Item: Make sure your horse is properly trimmed.
Reality: Glance at grooming supplies and make mental note to sharpen clipper blades. Glance at horse and make mental note to trim up his fetlocks, whiskers and ears and to pull his mane.

Checklist Item: Practice braiding. Who needs to pay for something when you can do it yourself?
Reality: Watch a few YouTube tutorials on braiding. Get distracted by video compilations of horse-and-rider wipeouts, foals doing cute things, and corgis riding ponies. Forget why you were on YouTube in the first place.

Make mental note to write actual note listing all of the items you mentally noted.

Actually DO none of the above, including writing aforementioned note.


Panic when trainer asks if you sent in your show entries. Hyperventilate when you can’t find an entry form or prize list. Call show secretary and agree to upcharge for post-entries at show.

Panic at condition of show clothing. Call dry cleaner and pay extra for emergency same-day cleaning for hunt coat. Toss breeches and show shirts in washer and dryer at barn.

Panic at condition of horse trailer and truck. Haul everything out and throw it on ground next to trailer.

Drag out hose with power washer attachment and blast interior of trailer. Blow poopy water all over truck, stuff you threw on the ground, and gelding in paddock next to you.

Apologize for spooking gelding.

Power-wash truck and all the stuff you threw on the ground.

Throw stuff you need back in the horse trailer and other stuff into tack room. Make mental note to sort it later.

Find show shirts and breeches hopelessly static-clung to each other in dryer. Experience mild amusement at sparks/snapping sounds created when pulling them apart. Panic at amount of horse hair stuck to shirts and breeches. Use entire roll of duct tape removing hair.

Panic at colossal feed deficit. Call feed store and agree to upcharge for emergency same-day delivery.

Panic at condition of horse. Throw him in wash rack and drag hose from trailer to wash stall. Forget power washer attachment is on hose.

Fetch horse from far end of property after he stops running. Apologize for spooking ponies in kids’ lesson. Make mental note to replace broken crossties in wash stall. Wash horse with bucket and sponge because you can’t get him anywhere near wash stall again.

Get dinner at McDonalds on the way home at 11 p.m.

Realize you left your dog at the barn. Go back and get dog.


Make mental note to get up early and have a healthy breakfast.


Wake up late. Get dressed in the closet while eating Froot Loops out of coffee mug. Realize for the first time that every color Loop tastes the same.

Cram feed into trailer with tack, equipment and supplies.

Retrieve tangled mess of standing wrap bandages from dryer. Pull at them while cursing. Toss them back in dryer and slap Velcro shipping boots on horse.

Discover there is no room in trailer for horse.

Unload half of tack, equipment, supplies and feed.

Load horse.

Hear pitiful meowing coming from back of trailer.

Unload horse, tack, equipment, supplies and feed. Free barn cat from back of trailer.

Reload all.

Get lost on way to showgrounds because your voice activated GPS can’t interpret the words “Cheektocatchi Fairgrounds” and keeps trying to route you to the Cheesecake Factory.

Check in at horse show office and find stabling for horse. Unpack trailer and realize you forgot water buckets and saddle pads.

Buy overpriced water buckets and saddle pads at tack vendor booth. Also purchase cute barn jacket and three t-shirts from sale rack. Grab extra horse cookies at checkout. Get talked in to adding $15 hairnet.

Tweet angry comment about high cost of showing.

Ride horse all over fairgrounds; feel pleased with how well he behaves.

Rinse him off with sponge and bucket because he still won’t go near a wash stall.

Why does he have only three shoes?

Spend next hour searching for shoe. Never find it.

Pay show farrier to put new shoe on.

Spend two hours attempting to braid horse; end up with gruesome mess. Blame Youtube tutorial for making it look so easy.

Realize you forgot seam ripper. Go back to tack store booth to find it closed. Attempt to remove Frankenbraids with scissors. Turn horse’s forelock into a twolock. Hide mishap by doing a comb-over. Horse now looks like Donald Trump.

Call braider and agree to pay extra so she can fit you in.

Make another angry tweet about high cost of showing.

Feed horse, clean stall, pick up schedule from office. Discover your first class is at 7 a.m.

Get to hotel and realize they don’t allow dogs. Hide dog in duffel bag and smuggle him past front desk, thankful that you got the Jack Russell and not the Bernese Mountain Dog.


Take shower and pass out on bed. Dream that you are falling off cliff. Awake to find dog has taken up entire bed, and you are hanging off the edge. Get up to pee. Come back and find dog splayed across middle of bed.

Spend rest of night on sofa.


Arrive at showgrounds with just enough time to pound a half-quart of coffee. Find horse gleamingly clean and beautifully braided in stall. Try to contain your excitement.

Realize it’s not your horse.

Find correct stall. Horse has blanket half off and manure stains on one side and has rubbed out some of his braids. They still look better than the ones you did.

Pound more coffee with an Ibuprofen chaser. Realize how annoying cheery morning people are.

Compete in classes strategically spaced so that you are always either cooling your horse down or warming him up. Have box of Skittles and Red Vines for lunch.

Last class runs late. Miss exhibitor party. Arrive at grand prix just in time to see victory gallop. Listen to friends rave about “the most exciting jump-off in history” all the way through dinner. Finish entire bottle of wine by yourself.

Peel clothes off and jump into shower. Dog is splayed across middle of bed and is asleep before you are.

Sleep on couch. Get up only once to put in earplugs because dog is snoring.


Get up early and order breakfast in room. Go look for reading glasses so you can read morning paper. Dog eats your breakfast before you find them.

Skip reading newspaper so you can grab breakfast from McDonalds on way to showgrounds.

Coffee insufficient. Pound espresso.

Have classes strategically spaced to start at dawn and end at dusk. Calculate that you spent a total of 15 minutes actually showing. Win four ribbons. Tweet smiling photo of yourself with ribbons; try not to calculate what each one actually cost.

Load trailer in the dark. Make mental note to get interior trailer light fixed.

Find three out of four shipping boots; decide that’s enough. Fumble around in horse trailer and put blanket on horse backwards. Once home, discover you tied the horse’s lead rope to his own leg. Horse has shimmied out of blanket and peed on it. He steps on your foot twice on the way back to the barn.

Put horse in stall, throw him hay, unhook and close up trailer, lock tack and feed rooms, turn lights off in barn.

Spend 20 minutes looking for car keys; find them in your pocket.

Get halfway home before you wonder if you latched stall door.

Drive back to barn and find horse missing from stall. Run around in a panic for 30 minutes. Discover horse has been put back in correct stall by trainer.

Tired of McDonalds. Get dinner at Burger King instead.

Make mental note to find a new sport.

Do no such thing.

After years of trying to fit in with corporate America, Jody Lynne Werner decided to pursue her true passion as a career rather than a hobby. So now, she’s an artist, graphic designer, illustrator, cartoonist, web designer, writer and humorist. You can find her work on her Misfit Designs Cafepress site. Jody is one of the winners of the Chronicle’s first writing competition. Her work also appears in print editions of The Chronicle of the HorseRead all of Jody’s humor columns for here.




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